Huge rescue effort discovers missing man on uninhabited island after spotting fire

A regular Robinson Crusoe was plucked to safety from an uninhabited island in the Bristol Channel on Sunday evening after a rescue helicopter spotted a fire he had built.

The man had reportedly been out drinking all Saturday night before deciding to take his small 12ft speedboat out into the channel at 6.30am on Sunday morning.

As the man approached Steep Holm Island at around 9am, his engine died and the vessel began taking on water. He managed to swim to the island, by which time his boat had disappeared.

He had a lifejacket, but no flares or VHF, and it was only the worried call of a friend to the Coastguard that alerted the rescue services to his situation.

A significant rescue effort was launched involving Porthcawl, Barry, Penarth, Weston-super-Mare, Watchet, Porlock and Burnham-On-Sea Coastguard rescue teams, as well as an RAF helicopter and three RNLI lifeboats.

As evening fell, the helicopter spotted a faint light from a fire the man had built on Steep Holm Island, and he was rescued soon after.

Despite not needing medical attention, the Coastguard said the man was “lucky to be alive”.

“We would always recommend that those going to sea carry a VHF radio with them as well as emergency flares so that if they run into difficulty they can contact the Coastguard as well as raising the alarm by attracting attention to themselves,” the Coastguard added.